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Hue Jackson press conference - 11/16

Opening statement:

"It is good to get back and get back out to work. Our guys continue to be resilient. They come in the building ready to work, ready to explore the next opportunity we have against a really good football team in Pittsburgh, dynamic players, a dynamic coach, a well-coached team. Obviously, they have probably, arguably a few of the best players in the game with (Steelers WR) Antonio Brown, (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) and (Steelers RB) Le'Veon (Bell). I have a lot of respect for those guys, and on defense, they are still who they are, led by (Steelers LB) Lawrence Timmons. They are a good football team. It is a tremendous challenge again for us. Knowing this division, that is kind of the way it is. It is a tough division, the AFC North. No one has really just gone out and claimed it. Obviously, Baltimore is leading it. They beat us twice so we have great respect for them. This team, Pittsburgh, we will get the opportunity to see them. Our players are excited about the opportunity to be at home and playing so we will keep working as hard as we can through the rest of this week. It is good to have a healthy team. It is good this time of year being in the situation we are to have everyone out there battling, getting ready and practicing and working to get better as we play a real tough opponent this weekend. We are looking forward to it."

On Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger:

"He is good. I have seen Ben so many times and I have great respect for him as a quarterback. He is a guy that is hard to bring down, and he makes a lot of uncommon plays in a lot different ways, running around with the ball and throwing the ball down the field. He has been very good at what he has done for a long time. Tremendous player."

On if he has ever seen a called fake-spike clock play in a game, similar to what the Steelers ran on Sunday:

"Yes, I have. I have attempted to call one in a game, and honestly, we ended up taking a time out. The head coach took a time out."

On if he tried to call the play with Cincinnati:

"No, it was Atlanta. I have tried that one before. It is a unique play, and they were able to execute it. Obviously, it gave them a chance to win the game."

On if he was the coach to call the timeout before the clock play:

"No, I was not the head coach then. I was a coordinator."

On who was the coach who called the timeout:

"I do not remember exactly who it was, but I know it was that year."

On if the other team suspected the clock play:

"I do not know. I think we had them, and I think the coach wanted to call timeout to make sure we had the right play. I think we had them lined up the right way so we did not make it happen."

On if he would be willing to try the play again:

"Oh yeah, I have, but you have to be in the right area of the field to try that because again, you have a chance for points, whether it is a touchdown, like they scored or the chance to kick a field goal. There is a lot that goes into that."

On if Roethlisberger is a model AFC North QB:

"Uh, oh (*laughter). *That is a hot question. What we need is a winning quarterback, let me put it like that. Obviously, Ben has a lot of great characteristics and I am not going to compare him to the guys that are on our roster, but do we want a guy that can win like him? Absolutely. Everybody does. He has won Super Bowls, he has won division titles and everything that you can do. Our team, our organization, we want to have a guy that we can say is a winning Super Bowl, division, quarterback, at some point. Think that is what we are going to get some day."

On if rookie QBs can improve immensely in one week to week or if it is always gradual and how QB Cody Kessler has been improving:

"It does, and I think Cody has done some good things, too. Maybe we have been a little too harsh on him that way. He has done some things that have been improvements. He has made some jumps in some areas. There are some areas that he wants to make some jumps in. Quarterbacks, they do that from time to time. He is playing with a cast of players week in and week out that he is starting to get familiar with and they are getting familiar with him. That is just work in progress. At the same time, young quarterbacks kind of grow at different rates time to time. We want them to grow up as fast as we can, but sometimes guys have to go through their process to get there."

On specific areas Kessler can make improvements:

"I just think running our offense. Obviously, situational football, we have to be very good in order to have a chance to win. You have to be good at third down. You have to be good in the scoring zone. You have to be good in two minute and all the situations that happen in games because those things dictate and decide games. The next jump for him is in all those areas because it is something you have to do to be a good offensive football team."

On when QB Robert Griffin III will return to practice:

"I think it is soon. Obviously, he is still working. He is not totally cleared to go out there and practice yet, but I think we are very good. We are getting there. Hopefully, we will get him out there sooner rather than later."

On if Griffin will return to practice this week:

"I don't think so, no. I don't think it will happen this week."

On Griffin not returning to practice yet:

"With all of these situations, obviously, I am not the doctor, but I think it is more of making sure that everything is healed up properly so that when he goes out, obviously, we will not be able to tackle him or do those things, but when you start exerting energy and practicing at a high level, that all of the sudden there is not a setback. We are just being very cautious and making sure that everything is done correctly so when he does go out there that he can stay out there.

On how Kessler has handled the benching last week now that he has returned to practice:

"Cody is fine. He is out there working, ready to go, bright eyed, excited about the opportunity to play. He is playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. You better be ready (*laugher). *I think we have really read into it a little bit more last week. I understand what everybody felt, but I don't think he looked at it that way. I think it motivated him. He is preparing himself to go play, and he will walk out there and go play well this week. That is what he has to do."

On QB Josh McCown and WR Andrew Hawkins visiting members of Congress this week and if it is important for them to use their voices:

"I do. It is huge. You are talking about two young men on our team that I have a lot of respect for, who have a voice in that locker room and that when they come back, there are messages that they can bring back. I think that they both really enjoyed their experience. They had asked me about this well in advance of the other day and I was totally for it because what a tremendous opportunity for them to have a voice in some serious issues that are going on and for them to learn different ways that we are trying to do things better. They will carry that message into our locker room with our younger players. They are two guys that I think our guys look up to."

On if McCown and Hawkins will address the team about the visit:"That is kind of up to them how they will do it because that locker room is theirs. I kind of leave that for them. I am sure they will, and I am sure guys have asked them throughout today, 'Why weren't you here?' I am sure they were able to share their experiences with them."

On if there is a sense of pride that two of the five NFL players on the visit were Browns:

"Yeah because it says that our guys are well thought of that way. I am very proud of that. That is a huge accomplishment. That doesn't just happen. There are a whole bunch of players that were not there. I think that someone thinks very highly of their influence in the National Football League."

On if the veteran NFL players have a responsibility to use their voice:

"Yes, I do. That is part of giving back. It is part of being somebody that is recognized in the league. More so than that, just giving back to what this league has given them, a tremendous opportunity."

On if he addressed the Browns about the presidential election results:

"I am not going there (laughter). I am not going into the politics thing. I have enough problems of my own so I'm not going to get caught up in that one (laughter)."

On if it is frustrating to have two dynamic WRs in Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Corey Coleman and the Browns not being able to use the full offense, also considering injuries:

"It can get difficult at times no question, but we just have to keep working honestly. They are good players, and I want to see them play as well as they can play, but it takes a unit as you are saying. It is not just one guy. I know again a lot of that falls on the quarterback's shoulders, but it is not just him. I want you guys all to know that. It takes the other 10 guys to do their jobs at a top level to play really good offensive football. That is my job and the rest of our coaches' jobs is to get those guys there. We just haven't done it as well as I think we can. I am not talking about the coaching of the players; I am just talking about in general, everyone, and we just have to keep working at it. We have six more opportunities to try to get there and get that good feeling that I think an offensive team has to have with confidence and play in that kind of fury, that kind of mindset, and I think we will keep working at it."

On the Browns WR corps moving forward:

"We are well on our way there. We have young, talented players – another emerging player who has never played the position, a young guy who we drafted No. 1 who I think is very talented and I think his best football is ahead of him. I feel good that we have done that part extremely well. We just have to continue to work to get them playing as well as I think they can play on an every down basis."

On RB Isaiah Crowell's production decreasing and if he has the talent to be a successful RB in the NFL:

"My fault. There is no question in my mind he does. I am not trying to cut you off, but I take responsibility for that when it comes to Crowell. This guy is a really, really good player, and we have not rushed the ball as well over several weeks now, and that is disappointing. I have to do a better job. I have to put him in better situations because he is a very, very talented player."

On if the Browns' decreased productivity running the ball is impacted by not having continuity on the offensive line:

"It is tough. It is tough, but that is the way it goes sometimes. We have had one of those uncommon years that way where we have gotten guys hurt, whether it be in practice, in games. That part has been difficult, but it happens. Everybody in the league is going through some of those things so I don't not look at it and go, 'Woe is me.' We just have to find a way, and we have. We have plugged guys here and there, and it is a credit to our players and a credit to the coaches to keep trying to find ways to get it done."

On how frustrating it is as a play caller and designer to see makeable plays left on the field:

"Absolutely, that is tough. That is. Like you said, you see things and you know how it should go, and when it does not go that way you go, 'Oh my gosh.' That is just part of it. I have been in that situation before, and I have watched teams come out of it. I have been in that situation before and you don't come out of it, and it is for so many different reasons. It is not just one person. It is a unit issue and maybe just the pressure of doing it play in and play out just not ready for. We have to get there because at some point in time here we are going to be a really good offensive football team. We are just not there yet."

On if a QB can drastically improve his arm strength during an offseason:

"Yeah, I have seen guys get stronger, can throw the ball further from Year 1 to Year 2, but I will say this: when we get to be where we want to be, we are not going to talk about any of those things. That is the one thing as we move forward at that position that I really don't want to spend time with, because we are going to make sure that, whether it is Cody or someone else or whoever, he is going to be able to play the game the way we want it played and you guys will know. You won't have to ask those questions. You are going to feel good about all those characteristics that you are mentioning."

On rookies dealing with pressure and developing and how that shows up on the field:

"It would be different if we were playing some not very good teams. We are playing some really good teams, and the pressure of doing things, whether it is situational football, third down when everybody in the stadium knows you have to throw the ball or you have to pass protect, you have to make this first down, that is pressure. You are in the scoring zone and you need a score and you have to make that play to score. That is pressure. Two-minute drills, that is pressure. Some guys are just not ready for that. That is having to do it right on a consistent basis, play in and play out for 55-60 snaps is tough. Normally, you get to take a blow as a young player while you are learning, but you are having to do it, and that is hard."

On LB Christian Kirksey leading the NFL in tackles, according to

"That means he is making plays, and that is what football is about. It is about making football plays and part of it, a huge part of it as you know, is tackling. He has had a tremendous season. He has six more games to go to earn the right to say that he has had a really good year. Thus far, he has done great. He has accepted the challenge of playing extremely physical and tough. He has done that. He is a three-down linebacker. He can play on first, second and third down. He runs, and he has made some explosive plays. He needs to continue to do so, and I think he will." 

On the word 'finish' being painted in the Browns end zone at practice today and if that is the team's theme moving forward:


On the Browns' message to 'finish':

"The second halves are something that we really talked about. We need to finish a game. As you guys all know, we have been up at halftime on about six of these opportunities. Normally, that is where you want to be. For some reason, we have not been able to finish it. To make winning a reality, that is what you have to do. You have to finish games, and we are going to count this thing down. There are six of them left, and I told these guys that and that is what it is there for. We are going to try to finish this season the right way because we need to."

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